Roughly 1 year after the first case of COVID-19 was identified and less than 1 year after the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, multiple SARS-CoV-2 vaccines with demonstrated safety and efficacy in phase III clinical trials are available. The most promising vaccines have targeted the surface glycoprotein (S-protein) of SARS-CoV-2 and achieved an approximate 85%–95% reduction in the risk of symptomatic COVID-19, while retaining excellent safety profiles and modest side effects in the phase III clinical trials. The mRNA, replication-incompetent viral vector, and protein subunit vaccine technologies have all been successfully employed. Some novel SARS-CoV-2 variants evade but do not appear to fully overcome the potent immunity induced by these vaccines. Emerging real-world effectiveness data add evidence for protection from severe COVID-19. This is an impressive first demonstration of the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccine and vector vaccine platforms. The success of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development should be credited to open science, industry partnerships, harmonization of clinical trials, and the altruism of study participants. The manufacturing and distribution of the emergency use–authorized SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are ongoing challenges. What remains now is to ensure broad and equitable global vaccination against COVID-19.
Jonathan L. Golob, Njira Lugogo, Adam S. Lauring, Anna S. Lok